There are things I feel uncertain about. I have questions, queries, and perhaps even a qualm (or two). In other words, I doubt.
But let me add this caveat: I don’t, deep down, doubt God. Questions may swirl in my head and circle my heart, but they always butt up against God’s immovable, steadfast word and promises. I am reminded often in black-on-flesh of the hope that is mine.
But, as I said, questions do come. Doubts worry.
I think that’s why I count the story of Gideon in the Old Testament – particularly its opening scene – as among my favourites. Gideon is a big old bag of doubt (even as he’s embarking on the tedious – and somewhat ingenious task – of threshing wheat in a winepress so it won’t be stolen by Israel’s oppressors). Life has worn him down, and that’s where the Angel of the Lord finds him in Judges 6.
Gideon is greeted in verse 12 as a brave man (GW*), a mighty hero (NLT*) and warrior (MSG*), and a man of valor (NKJ*). There are some men who would have replied, “Why, yes – yes I am! Thank you for noticing!”
Not Gideon, even when told in the very same breath God is with him.
You can almost hear Gideon’s incredulous tone as he asks if God is indeed with him, with his people, then why is all this terrible stuff happening to them? Where is the God who brought their ancestors out of Egypt?
By way of a reply the Lord tells Gideon to go rescue Israel from its oppressors the Midianites “. . . in the strength you have . . . Am I not sending you?” (v. 14, NIV*) To which Gideon replies, “How . . .? Look at my whole family. It’s the weakest one on Manasseh. And me? I’m the least important member of my family.” (v. 15, GW)
Yet God doesn’t throw His hands up in frustration and disgust, muttering how He’ll find someone with more faith and more “yeses” and less “wha—“. He tells Gideon He will be with him and that Gideon will defeat Midian as if that nation’s army was only one man (v. 16, GW).
And still Gideon hesitates. And still God shows He has said what He meant and meant what He said. And against impossible odds, a weak and unimportant man obeying a strong and almighty God then soundly trounces Israel’s enemy.
I look at that story, turn it over, hold it up this way and that in the light, and I am so thankful God did not (and does not) brush me off because of my questions and doubts about “me” and my sorry list of qualifications. He keeps reminding me of what it means to be His, of what He sees in me, of who He made me to be.
That stills the naysayers better than anything else.
*Bible translations used: GW – GOD’S WORD Translation; NLT – New Living Translation; MSG – The Message; NKJ – New King James; NIV – New International Version